How to Build a Great Restaurant Website
By now, we all understand how important a strong website is for any small business. But the requirements of a great restaurant website are continually evolving, meaning that the website of four years ago is already a thing of the past. Websites now have to pack simple, impactful, provocative words and images into a tiny wedge of space, and they have to do it affordably and accurately.
This is a major challenge for most restaurant operators, who are usually not web designers and often must rely on a professional to get the job done. The stakes and challenges are compounded in online media, which is an essential platform for building clientele. A great website can be an equalizer and an essential foot in the door to a competitive marketplace. But a lackluster site can set a business back lightyears. Successful operators know the value of presenting the business in a way that customers value.
Here are a few helpful tips for winning them over with a provocative website.
Keep it Simple
The framework of any great business site is a simple set of pages that efficiently direct customers to what they want. There are a few required pages in a restaurant site that have become standard procedure, including:
- Menu: A clean and easy-to-read e-menu is a must. It should be HTML-formatted into the webpage, so avoid PDFs and scanned copies of menus.
- About Us: This page has to combine the origins of the restaurant with tangible reasons to enter the building. Strong buzzwords like passion, cuisine, sizzle, and flavor should fill this page.
- Photo Gallery: The time has come for images to highlight a restaurant webpage. Make sure that these are clean, crisp, food-first, and simple. The result should be mouth-watering for the guest.
- Specials and Events: This page provides specific reasons for the guest to enter the building. It must be updated regularly.
- Social Media Links: Give customers reason to sign up to your Facebook and Twitter pages, such as giveaways, coupons, and tips for special events.
It’s About the Food
Restaurant homepages of the past were wordy and info-centric. Now they put the food first. A variety of scrolling image designs and slideshows have been developed that prioritize simplicity, getting design elements out of the way and letting your food shine.
This is your best chance to get your food out of the four walls of the building and into the heads of potential customers with lasting, impactful images. Don’t skimp on this step by using substandard pictures or lackluster design. Let your kitchen do what it does best and let it shine on your homepage.
Webpages have to translate to mobile devices now, meaning that Adobe Flash elements are essentially useless, since Adobe no longer develops Flash for mobile browsers. While many designers and operators complain about the end of the Flash era in restaurant webpages, this is another reason to keep it simple and let the food shine. Flash elements tend to build unnecessary bells and whistles into a website. Instead, strong restaurant webpages should lead the viewer’s eye directly to the food.
Stick to a Basic Color Scheme
Business majors and MBA students know the value of basic colors in the food and beverage industry, but not all web designers do. Bright blues and greens distract the eye from what it’s looking for. On the other hand, white, brown, and black color schemes direct the eye forward.
These colors might be bland in real life, but on the web they’re powerful. White symbolizes freshness and purity, and black represents authoritativeness and power. Brown is a reliable, stable color on a webpage, and all three direct the eye toward a powerful image.
Keep it Updated
An outdated webpage is a killer in this business, and too many good restaurants have out of-date websites. An updated site has info on new events, offers new incentives to customers, and even promotes daily and weekly specials. Fast-approaching dates and times of special events build urgency and the sense that things are popping. Outdated info tells customers to quickly move along to another page.
Incorporate Social Media
This point bears repeating because it’s so important to building an interactive experience. A successful web presence hits customers where they are already visiting. This means building multiple opportunities to capture a social media following. Facebook, Twitter, Blogspot, and YouTube icons should appear on the front page, with links to sites. Social media pages should, in turn, direct customers to the homepage. Combining this strategy with constant updates and real-world incentives to come through the front door gives operators a leg up on the competition.
Build the Brand
The brand or logo should appear on the upper left corner of every page, because this is the first place most people’s eyes go when opening a new page. It’s important not to overlook the power of spreading the brand through every webpage.